Semifinal battle takes its toll on star Zinobile

By Michael Boytim

DANVILLE — Quinn Zinobile stood tall, albeit with the help of a trainer and assistant coach, as his hand dripped blood and his leg bent with no pressure on it.

The senior quarterback and Juniata Valley’s heart and soul wept as he took the time to hug every one of his teammates and his coaches as they looked on at him in awe.

Zinobile didn’t finish Friday’s PIAA Class 1A semifinal game at Ironmen Stadium on the field, but he lived up to the venue’s name in every way.

“He was one of the best athletes we faced all year,” Lackawanna Trail coach Steve Jervis said. “He’s a very, very good football player.”

Zinobile rushed 20 times for 100 yards but probably ran for 250 yards if you consider how much time he spent in the backfield avoiding would-be tacklers.

He completed 8-of-16 passes for 162 more yards and was the Green Hornets’ leading tackler from his safety position on defense.

“He definitely put it all on the line and demonstrated who he is and the character he has,” Juniata Valley coach Bill Musser said.

Who he is was the best player on the field Friday.

After one third down conversion when he got 11 yards on third-and-10 in the third quarter and avoided five different tacklers, the Lackawanna Trail coaches in the pressbox let off a minute-long rant of cuss words and slammed their fists into the table.

He did all this with a constant limp and a leg injury he’s apparently been playing through for weeks.

“He’s been battling with that leg injury for a long time,” Juniata Valley running back Jaxson Rand said. “He’s a trooper and will battle through anything. The kid is an athlete. He’s amazing.”

Zinobile finally had to come out of the game when he was pressured into a corner near the sideline and was forced to put a pass up for grabs that was intercepted as he took a monster hit with just more than five minutes remaining.

He hopped off the field on one leg with assistance of his teammates and to a loud ovation from his community.

“I’m so thankful for everybody on my team,” Zinobile said. “I wouldn’t trade this team or anyone for anything.”

Unable to stand on his own by the end of the game, Zinobile insisted his leg was fine and wished he could play Friday’s game over again.

“We just didn’t come out on top tonight,” Zinobile said. “That’s football. You have to have a winner and you have to have a loser. We just couldn’t win tonight. I guarantee if we could play them 10 times, we would have beaten them eight.”

The Green Hornets made it all the way to the PIAA semifinals with grit and a determination to prove everyone wrong and got a District 6 championship to show for it. They may have finished one step away from their ultimate goal, but the man who carried the bulk of the load to get them to this point certainly has the admiration of his teammates.

“Quinn is an amazing athlete who would do anything for the team,” Juniata Valley senior wide receiver Kyle Derugen said. “He’ll go through anything to stay on the field. We just love him.”